In my mind, Tarsem Singh was one of the most creative directors of my generation. His 2006 film “The Fall” relies on unknown actors, rich colors, eclectic settings, and brilliant writing. We’re talking about stories within stories on par with “Primer” and “The Prestige” and an “every shot a pearl” quality that makes the entire piece like an uninterrupted music video.
When I heard there were dueling remakes of the classic fairy tale Snow White posed for release, I must admit, brand loyalty biased me in favor of Tarsem’s “Mirror, Mirror” over Rupert Sanders’ “Snow White and the Huntsman.” This time, Tarsem’s latest film would feature huge names like Julia Roberts and Sean Bean. He had a budget. He had a storyline rife with possibilities for creativity.
He blew it.
The dialog was one string of “believe in yourself” cliches, making any connection between the characters and audience utterly impossible. The film suffered from George Lucas’ Jar-Jar Binks syndrome in “Phantom Menace:” not only was it not funny, but it thought it was funny. There were not one, not two – but five distinct instances of various characters standing about in their underwear. In two of these scenes, the queen is trying to avoid being attracted to the underwear-garbed prince. It wasn’t funny the first time. The horse was not only dead, but he was lying in the ditch beside the road with flies and mangy buzzards circling and the hazmat crew already on call when they started beating the humorless carcass.
The trope-erific predictability continued bludgeoning the audience, scene after scene. One of the dwarves is attracted to Snow White, and, in no fewer than six reeking scenes, he mutters some line about getting together with her, before getting elbowed by another dwarf. At a wedding scene replete with huge hoop skirts, guess where the dwarves were hiding?
If this movie were a box of cereal, it would be as if Tarsem and Co. went down Predictable Aisle and pulled tasteless boxes of Captain Trope and Frosted Motifs, repackaging them in colorful branding in order to spring them upon the unsuspecting audience.
Worst of all, the overt preaching of what Hollywood seems to think the American consensus is only ended up demonstrating how utterly out of touch leftist Hollywood actually is. Its attempt at cultural relevance was limited to starving villagers protesting taxes, led by a local magistrate dressed in Tea Party-esque tricorn hat, a reference to the 2008 bailouts “too small to fail.” There is repeated lambasting of the queen’s use of taxes for “greed and vanity.” But the queen is hardly the terrifying figure of Disney’s classic. Instead of portraying evil, the queen is stupid, incompetent, and crazy. It’s as though her personal insecurity, not any form of moral corruption, drives her to have Snow White killed.
The whole film is a hollow edifice without creativity, artistry, or value.